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So You Want To Be An Underwater Cinematographer

Hello again, it’s Jason here.  So I often get the question when people find out what I do for a living. “What is important to know to become a successful underwater cinematographer?”  Well, that is a tricky one because there is actually a lot to know, but I figured this would be a great opportunity to do my best to give you the skinny on it.

I believe there are three key things that are fundamental in achieving a successful career as an underwater cinematographer.

First. This may seem obvious, but to be an underwater cinematographer, you have to love and be comfortable in the water.  Most folks who are in this line of work start out as divers, marine biologists, surfers, spear fishermen/women, anything that involves being around, or in the water, which makes up about 71% of the planet.   These people call the ocean home and feel just as comfortable slipping on some fins and going for a snorkel as they would by walking to the store to buy a bag of groceries..  In order to film underwater successfully you must be able to be 100% at ease and not think about all of the little things that you are doing to keep yourself alive while submerged.  This can come naturally and takes years of mental conditioning and experience to reach that level of comfort.

Second. You have to be patient and make the most of opportunities when they happen.   Again, seems like pretty obvious advice but this one rings true.  As vocations go, this one that isn’t that old and most of the people that started in this industry are still out there filming…. and they are darn good at it.  So the chances are once you get hired onto your first film shoot, there's a high probability that you won’t be filming.  The producer will have hired someone else with more experience than you to do that job that you covet.  After all, a lot of money will be at stake and the producer will want to go with a proven commodity.  But fear not, this is still a huge break so be prepared to help out where you can, carry gear, make contacts, and if in doubt, just say yes.  Your time will come but you have to be patient.  In the meantime, learn and hone your craft and be ready when the time comes.

Third. Be nice.  In this line of work, we aren’t out there with hundreds of people in an office setting.   You are usually off in remote places for the day or even days, with only a few people around.  So tight quarters are the norm and you have to get along with those around you.  Being with someone on a boat for the day is like spending a year with them in regular life.  No joke. So be nice and be the person that everyone wants to spend a day on a boat with.

Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to visit the Natures Bakery community.   I’ll be posting more soon so stay tuned and you if you have any questions or are an aspiring cinematographer, shoot me a line. I was there once and appreciated the guidance I was given starting out.

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